Kenneth Lonergan's incredible second film centres on Lisa Cohen (Anna Paquin), a New York teenager who calibrates a horrific bus accident against every dramatic spectacle and space that New York has to offer, none of which provide catharsis. As a result, her debriefing gradually acquires and internalises all of those discarded forms and spaces, meaning that the film moves from something like the jagged, offbeat comedy of Girls to a hysterical, histrionic pitch that forces another character to remind Lisa that she's not in an opera, or surrounded by supporting characters. This criticism mistakes cause for symptom though, since what makes Lonergan's film so extraordinary is his vision of New York's dramatic culture turned inside out and eviscerated, returned to the streets it came from. In part, it's because of 9/11 - as Cohen's seminars make clear, this is the event that looms over the film, offering the definitive city-wide spectacle, one that no single space or performance within the city can hope to replicate or assuage. However, any crude allegorising is offset by the way in which these seminars simultaneously suggest that the high school classroom, and its inflamed, hormonal debates, is the last repository of proportionate dramatic responses to the crisis - it's a city in a perpetual, heightened state of "adolescent self-dramatisation". It's a bit of a weird experience to watch then, since it's a film about how film has been eclipsed - but it's not quite the post-cinematic turn of cinema contemplating its own redundancy either. Instead, Lonergan seems prescient that the only way he can allow his audience to truly inhabit the New York of his vision is to create a spectacle that makes equal sense viewed as play, film, classical music, opera or any other traditional or ceremonial spectacle - it's at their junction that New York starts to exist, and they all cease to exist. This may explain why his continual slow-motion pans and stately establishing shots feel like more than filler or lazy scene-setting - they respectively take on the quality of new musical movements and warm theatrical backdrops, shot through with stately grace and classicism. In combination with the fact that it took Lonergan around five years to negotiate and refine this three-hour cut, it deserves to be called a magnum opus and, insofar as it's understood specifically as film, makes most sense when placed in the marginal lineage of filmed opera. The difference here is that Lonergan's also written the opera he's filming - with the exception of the concluding scene from The Tales Of Hoffman, which rivals Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's adaptation in its beauty and intensity.